Students must be free from religious bias. The issue of the appropriate role of religion in the public schools continues to be the subject of great controversy. School officials, parents, and students -- as well as lawyers and judges -- wrestle with these questions every day. Decision makers must address many competing demands. They need to balance the constitutional mandates of separation of church and state and the right to freely exercise religion, as well as freedom of speech.
Religion, while complex, does not have to be divisive. School districts should set forth clear policies and practices regarding religion in the public schools that satisfy both the letter and the spirit of the First Amendment. This presentation provided an overview of the legal challenges of addressing religion in public schools and unlearning religious bias. It also provided recommendations for culturally sustaining practices to meet the needs of students from diverse religious backgrounds.
Understand the implications of the First Amendment as it pertains to education and religion in public schools.
Balance constitutional concerns regarding religious liberty with school policies, including free exercise and religious accommodations.
Identify challenges faced by students from diverse religious backgrounds.
Identify best practices and policies for creating inclusive and safe environments for students from diverse religious backgrounds.